Are there any designs of perhaps old geostationary satellites available online? After searching around I was mostly able to find either crude diagrams or designs for little cubesats, but nothing for satellites that were meant to stay in the orbit for an extended period of time.

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    $\begingroup$ All geostationary satellites will stay in orbit very, very long, regardless if they are little cubesats or very large communication satellites. But they should be lifted into a graveyard orbit when they are not used anymore or before they run out of fuel. $\endgroup$ – Uwe Jul 7 '19 at 9:33
  • $\begingroup$ So Uwe do you think you can find a design for a geostationary cubesat then, considering that there aren't any? Are there cubesats in GEO? and also Are there any CubeSats that have been launched into Geostationary (GEO/GSO) or Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO)? $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jul 7 '19 at 14:27
  • $\begingroup$ What exactly are you looking for? A full design consists of tens of thousands of part drawings, electrical schematics and program code, and there's a whole spectrum between that and 'crude diagrams'. $\endgroup$ – Hobbes Jul 7 '19 at 16:56
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    $\begingroup$ It should also be noted that the designs for many of the parts of these satellites as well as the satellites themselves (even old ones) are protected both commercially by the companies that own them as well as the export regulations of the countries containing those companies. For this reason it would be illegal for those designs to be publicly available. $\endgroup$ – PeteBlackerThe3rd Jul 8 '19 at 16:08
  • $\begingroup$ @Hobbes it sounds like the OP would be interested in anything beyond "either crude diagrams or designs for little cubesats". $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jul 9 '19 at 0:33

A real satellite has hundreds if not thousands of documents associated with the project from high level assembly drawings to low level fixturing and assembly diagrams. Documents from specific projects are usually protected by either the company of the country that has created them because of competition and national secrecy, but I can direct you to some general textbooks and learning resources if you are interested in how a system such as that gets designed.

A good place to start is by reading a textbook called Space Mission Analysis and Design edited by Wiley J. Larson and James R. Wertz, which is a book that takes you through all parts of running a successful space program. You can start in Chapter 10 Spacecraft Design and Sizing, and work your way through Chapter 17.

There are some made-up spacecraft in that book that might be just what you are looking for.

A very poor PDF copy can be viewed at

but I recommend that you get your hands on a hard copy and flip through it; it's 500 pages long and that's almost impossible to browse via pdf.

I wonder though if you could be a bit more specific as to what you are looking for? When you say design are you looking for mechanical drawings, electrical drawings, orbital parameters, dynamic simulation models, station-keeping code, RF link spreadsheets.... ? That might help me to better address some specific issues you are interested in.

  • $\begingroup$ Please avoid asking for clarification from the OP in an answer. Anyway, welcome to space.SE! $\endgroup$ – William R. Ebenezer Jul 15 '19 at 17:31
  • $\begingroup$ Hi @TimothyBarrett I made an edit to your post to help it better fit the format and nature of a Stack Exchange answer. This looks really helpful, thank you for posting! Have a look around, you can probably find other questions you may want to answer as well. Once you reach 50 reputation (points) you'll be able to post comments on other people's posts. Welcome to Space! $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jul 15 '19 at 17:45
  • $\begingroup$ @WilliamR.Ebenezer thanks! I'll remember that for the future! $\endgroup$ – Timothy Barrett Jul 15 '19 at 18:49
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh thanks for the pdf! $\endgroup$ – Timothy Barrett Jul 15 '19 at 18:50

Specificity could turn a mammoth into an ant

Spacecraft designs are usually complex and would consist of several different categories of diagrams detailing each system separately. Sputnik 1 could be expected to have a nice single diagram, needing no extra detail. But modern spacecraft usually have an array of systems working with each other, it would be apt to say that each system could be take up a single diagram to summarise itself.

An outline drawing would show major components without divulging into much elaboration, but might help.

An outline provided below, as an example:

Giotto probe outline and cross section

Why it is not easy to find stuff

If you're looking for outline designs, you could search for popular geostationary satellites by name, but don't expect to unearth much. Most important drawings would be out of public reach, usually created with intellecual property rights protecting them. Remember that millions of dollars have been put into spacecraft R&D, so it's unlikely that they'll offer their hard work to free amateurs and/or potentially rival nations.

Some (possibly) useful resources

  1. I did find an interesting and useful site on history.nasa.gov which offers some detailed drawings of popular spacecraft developed by NASA. It might be of interest to you.

From source 1: skylab

  1. NASA also allows access to a large part of its archive, released through the NTRS (NASA Technical Reports Server) but it will take a long time of patient searching to find technical drawings in such a vast database.

While I haven't exactly stuck with the "geostationary" thing, I believe your motivation to add that was to avoid getting jpeg's of cubesat diagrams.


A few samples:

Intelsat IVA/Hughes HS 736 enter image description here

JAXA ETS-8 demonstration satellite:

enter image description here

enter image description here

Not geostationary, but lots of detail for Sentinel-3A:

enter image description here

enter image description here

  • $\begingroup$ Wow, beautiful! Luckily bounties have grace periods ;-) $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jul 17 '19 at 13:05

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